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Tim D. Davis, Daksha Sankhla, and Narendra Sankhla

Carnation cultivars `German Red' and `Chabaud' were planted in the field in Dallas, Texas, on 26 May 1994. During the subsequent 3 months, the average daily high temperature was 33C, and the average daily low temperature was 22C. `German Red' plants increased in height and diameter several-fold during this period. In contrast, `Chabaud' did not increase in height or diameter. `German Red' plants began flowering in early August, and by 2 Sept., all of the plants were blooming. None of the `Chabaud' plants produced flowers, and only 50% of the original plants were still alive on 2 Sept. Mean shoot dry weight per plant on 2 Sept. was 71.6 g for `German Red' and only 2.4 g for `Chabaud'. These results document the extraordinary heat tolerance of `German Red' carnation. This plant not only survived the summer, but also grew and began blooming during the hottest time of the year.

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Wayne A. Mackay and Narendra Sankhla

Phlox paniculata `John Fanick' produces long lasting, dense terminal flower heads and has potential as a specialty cut flower. Quality and postharvest display life of cut flower heads depends primarily on ethylene-induced flower abscission, flower bud opening, and maintenance and development of flower color during vase life. Late events, such as flower and leaf senescence may also be detrimental to flower quality. In the control treatment, the initial red-pink and purple flower color changes to violet blue in 3 to 4 days, and may lose >50% of initial anthocyanins. Incorporating sucrose (SUC) in the vase solution not only maintained >75% of the initial floral pigments, but also promoted opening of additional flowers and anthocyanin development. Although both ethylene biosynthesis (AOA, ReTain, a.i. AVG) and action inhibitors (STS, 1-MCP) delayed flower abscission, STS and 1-MCP were relatively more effective than AOA and AVG. As in the control, newly opened flowers remained very small when treated with ethylene inhibitors, did not develop red-pink color, and exhibited only shades of violet blue color. Sucrose antagonized the effect of ethylene inhibitors. As such, the flowers in SUC+ethylene inhibitors treatments enlarged in size and developed a reddish-pink blue color. However, the flower quality in SUC alone was much superior than those in SUC+ethylene inhibitors. These results indicate that ethylene inhibitors, alone and in combination with SUC, were not of any additional value in improving postharvest performance and display life of cut phlox flower heads.

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Narendra Sankhla, Wayne Mackay*, and Tim Davis

Low concentration fumigation with nitric oxide (NO*) has been shown to extend the postharvest life of a range of flowers, fruits and vegetables by down-regulating ethylene production. Since ethylene is involved in flower abscission and leaf senescence of `John Fanick' phlox cut flower heads, a superior selection of perennial phlox (Phlox paniculata L.) bearing attractive long-lasting flowers, we have evaluated the effect of NO* delivered in vivo using sodium nitroprusside (SNP) as the source of NO* donor, on postharvest performance of `John Fanick' phlox flower heads. Although the presence of SNP (10-200 μmol·L-1) in the vase solution promoted the abscission of the open flowers, the young flower buds continued to open even in the presence of high SNP concentrations. On the other hand, at high SNP concentrations, the leaves became either yellow, or more frequently turned progressively black and senesced. Inclusion of sucrose in the vase solution, or pretreatment of flower heads with either 1-MCP or STS, significantly delayed the abscission of flowers and blackening of leaves. The pretreatment of flower heads with either 1-MCP or STS, or the presence of sucrose in the vase, together with SNP, greatly reduced the toxicity of the latter chemical resulting in improved postharvest display life. These results indicate that in `John Fanick' the leaves are relatively more susceptible to NO*-induced toxicity than the flowers. However, both sucrose and ethylene perception inhibitors are able to minimize the toxicity of high concentrations of NO* delivered in vivo via SNP.

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Wayne Mackay*, Narendra Sankhla, and Tim Davis

Over the years, by recurrent phenotypic selection, breeding and evaluation, we have developed blue, white, and pink flowered lines of Big Bend bluebonnet (L. havardii Wats.). The racemes, which differ in their sensitivity to ethylene, hold promise as a new specialty cut flower crop. The key determinants of postharvest longevity and performance of cut racemes are flower abscission and senescence. Our studies indicated that the addition of sucrose in the holding solution greatly enhanced the vase life, although the optimum sucrose concentration varied considerably in different lines. In blue flowered lines (e.g., `Texas Sapphire', Blue Select) sucrose concentration greater than 2% induced `osmotic wilting' followed by senescence of the standard petal (banner spot petal), while the petals in white flowered lines (e.g., `Texas Ice', White Select) did not show any wilting even in 4% to 6% sucrose. Ethylene perception inhibitors such as 1-MCP or STS completely suppressed the induction of flower abscission in racemes of all the bluebonnet lines. Ethylene biosynthesis inhibitors (e.g., ReTain, CO++), on the other hand, were relatively less effective than 1-MCP/STS. Both ethylene perception as well as biosynthesis inhibitors, in combination with sucrose, acted additively and further enhanced the postharvest performance by delaying flower abscission/senescence.

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Abha Upadhyaya, Tim D. Davis, and Narendra Sankhla

Moth bean (Vigna aconitifolia Jacqu. Marecbal cv. Jaadia) seeds were germinated in 0, 0.1, 1, or 2 μm EBL. After 72 hours, seedlings were exposed to 22 or 48C for 90 minutes. At 48C, EBL increased total electrolyte, K+, and sugar leakage from the seedlings relative to the control. Following exposure to 48C, EBGtreated seedlings bad higher malondialdebyde concentrations than controls, indicating that EBL enhanced high-temperature-induced lipid peroxidation. At 48C, EBL increased ascorbic acid oxidase activity but decreased superoxide dismutase activity relative to the control. Taken collectively, these data do not support a hypothesis that brassinosteroids confer beat shock tolerance to moth bean. Chemical name used: 24-epibrassinolide (EBL).

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Abha Upadhyaya, Tim D. Davis, and Narendra Sankhla

Seeds of moth bean (Vigna aconitifolia Jacqu. Marechal cv. Jaadia) were germinated in the presence of 0, 0.1, 1, or 2 μm 24-epibrassinolide (EBL). After 72 h, cotyledons were excised and the seedlings exposed to 22 or 48 °C for 90 min. At 48 °C EBL increased total electrolyte, K+, and sugar leakage relative to the untreated control. Following exposure to 48 °C, EBL-treated seedlings had higher malondialdehyde concentrations than controls indicating that EBL enhanced high temperature-induced lipid peroxidation. At 48 °C, EBL increased ascorbic acid oxidase activity and decreased superoxide dismutase activity relative to the control. Taken together, these data do not support the hypothesis that brassinosteroids confer thermotolerance to plants. On the contrary, EBL increased high temperature-induced damage and reduced the activity of some antioxidant systems that may protect against stress-induced cellular damage.

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Tim D. Davis, Wayne A. Mackay, and Narendra Sankhla

Big Bend bluebonnet (Lupinus havardii Wats.) is native to a narrow geographic range in southwestern Texas and produces attractive blue inflorescences (racemes) that may be used as cut flowers. Several crops were produced in the greenhouse to determine postharvest-characteristics of the cut inflorescences. Without any postharvest conditioning treatments, the inflorescences held in water had an average vase life of about 7 days. During this period, an average of 13 flowers abscised per inflorescence. When preconditioned for 4 hours in 40 to 160 mg·liter−1 silver thiosulfate (STS), vase life increased to 10 to 12 days and fewer than three flowers abscised per inflorescence. A commercial floral preservative (Oasis) had no effect on flower abscission or vase life of STS-treated inflorescences. Flower abscission and vase life were the same whether STS-treated inflorescences were placed in floral foam moistened with water or in water alone. Storing STS-preconditioned inflorescences in water at 5C for 72 hours did not affect flower abscission or vase life compared to the unstored control. Dry postharvest storage at 5C for 72 hours caused noticeable wilting, but, on dehydration, these inflorescences still had a vase life of about 8 days. Postharvest characteristics of pink-and white-flowered breeding lines were the same as for the blue-flowered line. These results indicate that cut inflorescences of L. havardii have desirable postharvest qualities and can be stored for up to 72 hours without seriously limiting vase life.